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Jdonley75 last won the day on September 23 2018

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3,064 You Wish You Were Me

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About Jdonley75

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    Music, books, keeping my house in one piece on my own, my cats, traveling and meeting new people.

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  1. Ugh.  Goddamn it.  42 chapters and two short stories and I'm finally forced to come up with a name for that town.  At least it's not a real place.

  2. Jdonley75

    Chapter 3

    It was a big step for Jacob, confiding in Tyler like that. They are going to end up having an interesting relationship but it's going to end up being secondary to a few other people towards the end. This isn't Jacob's story, but his arc does intersect more than a few times with Tyler. There's going to be a few scenes "replayed" from The Acquittal that might knock your socks off. And it's a little funny because I didn't invent them out of whole cloth. I knew that they happened when I wrote the first book but I didn't include them because I wanted to maintain that strong emotional development between the readers and the principle characters (Kyle, Jacob and David) and only slightly show stories from others (Andy, Troy and Brian). You may also notice that David seems almost like a different person in this chapter and if you read the last book, you should have a pretty good idea why. But part of that is also perspective as well. Tyler can be a little intimidated by father figures at this point in his development. As for Drake and Tyler, their relationship is going to take several twists and turns throughout the entire story. This isn't going to be a story about two soulmates. This is more of a story about a boy finding his way in the world and a man trying to survive his past. I'm really hoping you and everyone else enjoys it.
  3. Jdonley75

    Chapter 3

    Troy's always been a good guy. He's just getting a lot more notice this time around. You'll see him shine quite a few times before this is all done.
  4. Jdonley75

    Chapter 3

    Glad you're enjoying it. Some of the secrets are kind of open secrets for anyone who's read the first book. They're hinted at in a vague fashion because a lot of this is from Tyler's perspective. He's going to have a lot more encounters and the easy introductions are pretty much over. After this chapter @#$% gets real.
  5. Jdonley75

    Chapter 3

    Glad you like. The intro to Tyler's life is about over now. The real story starts real soon.
  6. Tyler pulled the trigger and heard the satisfying thunk of the nail being driven through the shingles and paneling of the roof. Two more pulls of the trigger, two more nails and the shingles were set in place. “See? It’s easy, isn’t it,” Andy’s voice called from the far end of the shallow incline of the roof they were both on top of. Tyler smiled a little sheepishly as he replied, “well, it’s my first time using a nail gun. I didn’t wanna mess it up.” Andy chuckled before setting a sheet of shingles onto the roof and expertly using his nail gun to attach it to the roof. “Not like you’re gonna get yelled at by the client if you did.” “Hey, I’m the client,” Jacob said from the opposite side of the roof. “And you’re gonna bitch at Tyler if he nailed down some shingles wrong.” Andy asked playfully. "No…” “See there?” Andy grinned at Tyler. “Relax and enjoy the free training.” Tyler giggled to himself thinking it wasn’t much of free training if they were doing all this on their day off and not really getting paid for it. Jacob had come through for Sam and gotten the house completed in record time with the help of Tyler and the rest of the crew. Everyone on the crew got a bonus once it passed inspection but what had motivated Jacob was Sam’s loan of some surplus equipment and a sizeable cash loan for him to realize his dream of owning his own workshop. For practical purposes he had chosen to build it next to the new barn at the orchard that had been built two years prior. Getting the water and electrical lines had been the only real challenge along with the foundation. It had taken time and rain had slowed him down, but Jacob didn’t let up. He had spent the last few years working wherever he could and storing his stuff wherever he could find space. Now, he had one building to store everything in and to work from. Once the roof was completed and the walls were painted. Tyler had spent a couple days, helping Jacob with little odds and ends over the last week when he had time. He liked being able to help his friend. The fact that Jacob’s smile made his chest feel warm only encouraged him to work harder for him. A part of him still couldn’t believe this place even existed or that it was just a few minutes from his trailer park. The first day Jacob brought him to his house to help him with his workshop he had been rendered speechless by the beautiful panoramic view of row upon row of apple trees that seemed to stretch on forever. When Jacob had seen his mouth drop open in surprise he just chuckled and patted him on the back before saying, “yeah, it’s a sight to see, isn’t it?” “You live here,” he had asked in quiet surprise. “Yeah,” Jacob replied simply. Tyler thought he heard a funny tone in his voice but wasn’t certain, so he dismissed it before they got to work. Now, with Andy and Troy’s help, they were nearly done with the workshop. Jacob and Troy were starting on one side while Andy and Tyler worked on the other, each of them working towards the top of the roof. What would’ve taken a couple hours for Jacob by himself was quickly done by the four of them. Troy made the other two stop when they got to the top to let Jacob put in the final nails to complete the work. Tyler noted Troy and Andy both seemed to have a more emotional reaction than he expected. Troy put an arm around Jacob’s shoulders and said, “I’m proud of you.” Jacob’s cheeks seemed to tint slightly in the sun. “Thanks.” “Are you four just gonna stand around up there?” A deep, gruff voice came up from the ground bringing a few smirks to the four of them standing at the top of the roof. “I got lunch ready if anyone’s interested.” “We’ll be right down,” Jacob replied before the four of them made their way down the ladders to the ground. Tyler had felt a little intimidated by Mr. Howard when he first met him. He had a slight frown on his face and his brown eyes seemed to be looking inside him as if he was discerning if he was an intruder. Jacob assured him David was a nice guy once he got used to someone new. It seemed to Tyler he was mostly right. His frown disappeared after a few visits and once in a while there would be a smile there, but the brown eyes never seemed to change. The four of them followed David up the ramp to the back door of the large two-story farmhouse. Tyler was still in awe of it all even if he had been here half a dozen times in the past three weeks. The five of them gathered around the counter as David passed out plates with roast beef sandwiches, potato salad and corn. Tyler thanked David and followed the others retrieving drinks from the fridge before heading into the dining room to sit down and eat. Tyler ate quietly while the others talked. Andy and Troy were talking about their children, sharing stories while David and Jacob listened, occasionally chuckling or making comments. While he knew their kids, Tyler hadn’t been around them very often to understand all that they were talking about, but he paid attention out of politeness. “They been giving you any trouble,” Andy asked with a playful smirk. “Hell…” David’s lips lifted in a gentle smile hidden behind his salt and pepper beard, “They’re damn near perfect by my estimates.” Tyler noticed David’s eyes twinkle slightly as he spoke about Andy and Troy’s sons. “Chase has gotten to that age where he has a million questions about everything. Have fun with that.” Troy laughed softly. “Yeah. I noticed. He likes to put me in a corner asking questions he really can’t understand the answers too.” “The rest are just precious. Blake and Carter are cute together. I think I took about a hundred pictures of them the other day.” David took a couple bites as the others ate before he turned to Jacob and asked, “What’s next on the agenda?” “Well, if you guys have the time, I’d like to get the big stuff moved in now so that’s out of the way,” Jacob answered as he looked around the table. “After that, the rest I should be able to handle on my own.” Troy looked over at Andy who shrugged and then to Tyler who smiled and nodded. “Sure. We can get that done.” “Cool,” Jacob said with a smirk. He turned his attention to the silent one at the table. “Hey, Tyler, what did you end up doing for your twenty-first birthday?” Troy and Andy looked curiously from Jacob to Tyler. “When was this,” Troy asked. “Oh, uh…” Tyler blushed and said, “two weeks ago. And mom just took me out to dinner. I had a beer. Nothing special.” Andy frowned a little hearing the news. “You should have said something.” Tyler shrugged, trying to play it off. “It’s not a big deal.” “Yes, it is,” David said as he turned his gaze slowly over to Jacob. Jacob’s face showed his embarrassment as David stared him down. “He said something to me the week before…” Troy sighed. “I understand. Tyler, we’ll make this up to you.” Tyler sat up a little straighter, looking worried that he’d gotten his friend in trouble. “You don’t have to do anything. It’s not his fault. I should have said something, but I wasn’t sure anyone would be interested.” “We’ll settle this later,” Troy said as he finished up his plate. “Let’s go get Jacob’s stuff moved into his new shop and then Andy and I are taking Tyler out.” The others quickly finished their lunch and rose to return their finished plates in the kitchen. Tyler noted that Jacob was a lot quieter as they crossed the hard asphalt drive to the barn next to the just completed workshop. Jacob opened the barn doors and then turned to his new workshop to open up the large doors that faced the house. When he pointed out what he wanted moved and where he wanted it set up, his voice had lost a lot some of its enthusiasm from earlier and his blue eyes were clouded. Andy clapped Tyler on the back to get his attention and the two of them set to work moving one of Jacob’s large table saws. It was a lot of heavy lifting in all but after an hour, all the heavy machinery and other things Jacob wanted transferred were set up. He had another day before he could get power to it all, but he was pleased with the look. “Oh. One more thing,” Jacob said as they were finishing up. The others followed him back to the barn. Moving through all the accumulated ladders and assorted items through the years stored in the barn he stopped close to the back and motioned them to him. “I just wanna get this moved. It’s easier with two people than one.” Tyler stepped up and looked at what he was pointing at. Sitting there under some old blankets and a plastic tarp was a loveseat that looked older than him. “Uh…? What do you want this for?” “Just… Somewhere to relax. Take a break.” Jacob’s eyes avoided Troy and Andy who looked at it stoically, saying nothing before walking out to their trucks. Tyler helped Jacob pull the other stuff off it before they easily picked it up and walked it out of the barn and into the far corner of the workshop. When he was done, Jacob’s lips had a ghost of a smile on them as he looked at the loveseat. “Thanks.” Before Tyler could move, Jacob put his hand on Tyler’s arm. “Tyler, I’m really sorry I didn’t say anything about your birthday. I’m sure you would’ve wanted to spend it going out to your first bar and drinking and having fun.” Tyler looked a little wary, trying to control his body’s response to Jacob’s hand touching him. “It’s no big deal. It may have been like most people’s birthdays, but not everything works out the way we hope.” He was all too aware of how truthful that concept was. Maybe he had been a little disappointed at the time but being disappointed was a feeling he’d been used to for most of his life. Jacob let out a sigh that sounded as if it came from his soul. “I know how that feels, believe me. I would’ve liked to have done something but… I really can’t. Bars aren’t really good places for me to be in anymore.” “Oh.” Tyler blinked, not entirely understanding. “Why not?” “It’s…” Jacob sighed. “I should be truthful with you, Tyler. I owe you that at least.” Tyler watched Jacob’s posture straighten a little, looking like a man who was expecting the worst and prepared for it. “I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been sober for barely a year now. I didn’t want to say anything when you brought up your birthday because I had a feeling that’s where the conversation was going to go, and I just wasn’t comfortable talking about it.” Tyler slowly digested the information as he stared at Jacob. “Ok. Well, I’m glad you told me. I thought you just… didn’t think much of me.” Jacob frowned. “Why would I think that?” “Nothing,” he shook his head. “Forget it. I just… Last couple years have sucked.” “Well, I guess that means there are better days ahead for you then,” Jacob offered with a small smile. Tyler returned the smile and nodded his head. “Yeah. Maybe.” “Thanks for all your help,” Jacob said. “I know if I ever need more help who I should call.” Tyler blushed and Jacob didn’t want to keep him any longer, so he just finished with, “Troy’s probably waiting for you. Let him go make up for me being stupid.” “You’re not stupid,” he assured him as he started walking. “I’ll see you later, I guess…?” “Count on it,” Jacob replied with more certainty than Tyler expected. Tyler’s spirits were lifted by their parting words as he walked out of Jacob’s workshop. The sexiest guy in town wants to hang out with him. How lucky can he get? He turned the corner as he exited and saw Troy and Andy standing next to each other between their trucks. As he approached, he spoke up so they didn’t think he might be eavesdropping. “Can one of you give me a ride home?” Troy turned to him and got a peculiar smirk on his face. “You got plans or something?” “No, I was just wondering is all,” he replied with a shrug. “Good,” Troy’s smirk turned into a grin. “Get in.” Tyler glanced at Andy who just chuckled silently as he walked over to his truck and got in. With no other choice, he opened the door to climb into Troy’s truck just as the engine came to life. “Where are we going,” Tyler asked. “You’ll see,” Troy said. “So, did Jacob do the right thing and apologize?” “Yeah,” Tyler said but hastily added, “but it wasn’t his fault, I mean--” “Don’t make excuses for him,” Troy said. “He’s been out of sorts for a long time and I know things have been rough for him for… well, for a while now. But he should have known better.” “Well,” Tyler said in a quieter tone, “it’s not his fault he’s… you know…” Troy cast a surprised glance over at him before returning his eyes on the road. “He told you he’s an alcoholic?” “Yeah…” Troy shook his head a little in surprise. “Well… He must really like you then. He doesn’t tell that to just anyone. Only ones that know are me, Andy, David, my dad and another guy.” Tyler tried but failed to suppress a grin. Maybe that meant Jacob might be interested in him? But, if that was true, how would he know what to do? Tyler suddenly realized he had no idea how to flirt or ask a guy out on a date. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do or say or how to even tell if a guy was interested in him. The enormity of what he didn’t know caused his grin to rapidly fade. For all he knew Jacob was straight anyway. The truck pulled into a parking lot to a place called The Steel Door. Tyler could see the neon beer logos in the tinted windows as Troy parked the truck and shut the engine off. By the time Tyler climbed out of the truck, Andy was pulling up next to them. Tyler followed them in the front door and was oddly surprised by how unassuming the place looked. The overall atmosphere was casual with a couple pool tables and a jukebox off to one side while the rest of the room had steel chairs and tables set up all around the place. The middle section just as he walked in was dominated by a large bar with two men working behind it. Tyler followed Troy and Andy to a table and sat down. “He told him,” Troy said to Andy. Andy blinked, mildly surprised, and looked over at Tyler. “You know not to say anything to anyone, right?” “Hey,” he managed to smile, “I’m not my mom. I don’t gossip.” Andy chuckled. “Good. He’s real touchy about it.” “So, what’re ya drinkin’ Tyler,” Troy asked. “Oh…” Tyler smirked. “I really didn’t bring any cash with me.” “This is to celebrate your birthday,” Troy explained with a smile. “You don’t pay for your drinks today. And don’t argue. What do you want?” “Uh… Just a beer, I guess,” he said with a little uncertainty. He still wasn’t used to people like Troy. Yeah, he and his mom got some charity and some help at times when they needed it when he was younger, but they mostly were out of pity more than just kindness. “Thanks.” When Troy got up and went to the bar to get their drinks, Andy moved closer to Tyler and said in a quiet voice, “you don’t need to be shy or uncomfortable around us, Tyler. You’re about as shy as Jacob was when we first met him. I think you’re a lot like him in more ways than that too.” “Oh? Like how?” He found it hard to believe he and Jacob could have anything in common. He was plain and ordinary while Jacob seemed so mature and comfortable with himself most of the time. Andy smirked and glanced around to see if anyone was looking before he leaned in and whispered, “well, for one, he’s never had a girlfriend either.” Andy sat back and gave Tyler a meaningful look. Tyler stared at him, both surprised at the possibility that Andy was inferring that Jacob wasn’t straight and shocked that he had been found out. “Uh… What does that have to do with anything?” Andy opened his mouth to say something but stopped just as Troy returned with three beer bottles, setting one in front of each of them before taking a drink from his before saying, “happy belated birthday, Tyler.” Tyler flushed red and smiled his thanks as he took a drink of the cold beer. Troy looked between the two of them for a moment before he finally said, “okay, what were you talking about while I was at the bar?” Andy hid his grin behind his bottle. “What makes you think we talked about anything?” “Because I’m not dumb like you,” Troy countered with a smirk. “Go on. Tell me.” “I was just telling Tyler here that he and Jacob had a lot in common…” Tyler giggled nervously at the thought and stifled it with a quick drink as Troy glanced his way. “Like what?” Andy looked over at Tyler before he replied, “like he and Jacob are probably in the same boat as far as what kind of company they prefer.” Tyler nearly choked on his beer which caused Andy to break out into a fit of giggles. Troy rolled his eyes. “Andy… Quit it. Don’t put him on the spot like that.” Tyler wondered if things were going to turn bad suddenly. “Well…” “Tyler, it’s ok,” Troy interjected. “We don’t care if you’re gay or not.” “Which was the point I was trying to make earlier,” Andy added. “Don’t think you have to hide yourself from us.” Tyler looked at the two of them as they looked at him. He could tell in their eyes they meant every word they were saying. Over the last five months, he’d come to like and admire Andy and Troy. The least he could do is trust them. He felt like a weight had been lifted from him. He needed to learn to trust others. Especially if they weren’t his father. “Ok,” he said with a smirk, “you caught me.” The other two laughed softly. “I’m not used to trusting people much. My dad kind of screwed me and my mom over and I guess that left a chip on my shoulder.” Troy nodded. “I understand. But, we’re not your dad and neither is Jacob or anyone else. If you wanna actually find someone to date or whatever you want to do with them, you gotta give them a chance.” “Only problem with that is I’m not sure what exactly to do,” he said with a sardonic smirk. “I doubt I’d know another gay guy if he landed on my lap.” Andy laughed quietly. “Just be yourself. That should be enough. Troy and I knew a few gay guys when we were in high school.” “Well, we didn’t know about some of them until after high school,” Troy quipped, giving him a meaningful look. “Don’t look at me,” he replied with a laugh. “Pretty sure I never asked him.” “Who,” Tyler asked. “Old friend of ours,” Troy replied. “He’s living it up in Pittsburgh now.” Andy took a long drink of his beer as Tyler said, “too bad I couldn’t meet him. Maybe give me some pointers.” Troy laughed. “You don’t need help. You’re a handsome young man. That should be enough.” “Like you’d know,” Andy said with a smirk. Tyler finished his beer, feeling better about talking with them. They may be straight, but they seemed to accept him with no problem. He finally allowed himself to relax and enjoy himself around them. He knew now he didn’t need to prove anything to them. “What about Jacob? Is he seeing anyone?” Andy and Troy both grinned as they looked at each other. “Not that I know of,” Troy replied. “I mean, if you’re interested, you can try your best but pretty sure he’s not ready to jump back in the dating pool right now.” “Why not?” “Mostly because of his sobriety,” Troy said. “There’s other reasons to, but that’s not stuff I should be telling you about.” Tyler nodded, accepting that Jacob wasn’t entirely available. For the moment. After they finished their first beers, Troy pulled out a twenty dollar bill and put it in front of Tyler. “Time for you to be a grown up. Go up there and get us some more beers.” Tyler chuckled with them as he picked up the money and headed over to the bar. The bartender was standing with his back to Tyler, pulling some bottles out of a lower cabinet and setting them up for display. Tyler noted he had a very nice ass under his tight black pants. The yellow polo shirt he was wearing seemed to fit him rather well as the bartender turned and noticed Tyler standing there. The man’s face was handsome with flecks of gray in his dancing blue eyes. When he smiled, his teeth shone white and even. Tyler could feel his heart thump in his chest for a moment as the man stepped up to him and said in a deep, sexy voice, “pretty sure I haven’t seen you around here before, kid. What’s your name?” “Tyler,” he replied with a smile. “Gonna need to see your ID, Tyler.” His voice was polite, almost cheerful as his easy smile and shining eyes focused on the young man. As he looked it over, his smile widened. “You take a nice picture, Tyler. What’ll it be?” “Three Bud Lights.” "Coming up,” he said as he moved to the small fridge where they kept the bottles. “How come I’m just now meeting you, Tyler? You didn’t come out here on your birthday?” “No. Just went out to eat with my mom.” “Well, my name is Drake. Good to meet you.” He flashed Tyler a charming smile as he set the beers in front of him and took the offered money. When he returned with the change, he made sure he put his hand in Tyler’s as he leaned forward, letting a few strands of his dark hair fall over his eyes. “Hope to see you again soon.” Tyler might be new to being in a bar, but he was pretty sure Drake was flirting with him. He smiled a little, affecting more confidence than he felt as he replied, “pretty sure you will.” He took the beers and returned to his table with the others. As he sat down, he glanced back to the bar and saw Drake still smiling at him before turning to serve another guy. “Not wanting to kill the mood or anything,” Troy said as he took his beer, “but we’re only having two today. I gotta get home and we got one more stop before then.” Tyler turned his attention back to Troy and Andy. “Oh. Well, that’s cool. I wasn’t expecting much. Do you guys come here often?” Andy shrugged. “Once in a while for me. Not sure about Stick-in-the-Mud, here…” Troy gave him a mock glare before smirking. “I got a wife and kids. And a business to run. Can’t be out here getting fucked up like I’m a young kid again.” He turned his eyes to Tyler as he said, “make sure you’re careful and don’t drive when you know you shouldn’t.” Tyler laughed. “Well, that’s easy since I don’t have anything to drive.” Andy and Troy laughed slightly but Tyler got the impression they were laughing for some secret reason. The talk turned more casual and Tyler felt even more at ease with the two of them as they slowly drank their second beer. The longer they sat there, the more Tyler felt like he wasn’t as alone in the world as he had felt the last couple years. Occasionally, his eyes would drift over to the bar. On a few of those occasions, Drake would be looking back at him with a charming smirk or bright smile. It gave Tyler a rush in his body he hadn’t felt before except the couple times he was close to Jacob. Maybe getting to know Drake might not be a bad idea. The three of them finished their beers and headed back out to their trucks. As they got near, Andy and Troy started to head to their own trucks but not before Troy patted him on the shoulder and said, “good work today. See you tomorrow.” “Later, bro,” Andy replied as he got in his truck and headed home. Troy glanced to Tyler. “We got one last stop before you and I are done.” Tyler smirked and replied, “hope I’m not in trouble.” “Just the opposite,” he grinned as he opened his door. “Get in.” Tyler complied and Troy drove the truck out of the parking lot. “The beers weren’t your birthday present, Tyler.” “I didn’t know I was getting a present.” He blinked in confusion, wondering how Troy managed to get him any kind of present when he only found out about his birthday a few hours ago. Troy smirked. “Well, it’s not much. Andy and Jacob think highly of you. And a couple of the other guys have mentioned you’ve been a big help from time to time on whatever you’re working on. I like to reward that kind of attitude.” There was no answer from Tyler. “So, where is your dad again?” “Trenton.” Tyler started getting uncomfortable again. “What did he get you for your birthday?” “Nothing.” “Nothing?” “Nope.” “He didn’t call you? Didn’t stop by?” “No.” Tyler could feel his cheeks flush in shame. He put all his effort into not letting any hurt or disappointment show. He would never give his father the satisfaction of knowing he’d hurt him. “I’m sorry to hear that,” Troy said with true sympathy. “But, while you were busy with Jacob, I took a minute to call my dad. I told him about all of us missing your birthday. He gave me an idea about how we can make it up to you.” Tyler’s voice sounded a little strained as he replied, “Troy, you don’t need to do anything for me. You gave me a job. That’s enough, really.” “No… you earned the job.” He pulled into the office’s back parking lot, parking his truck next to the side storage garage. “Dad and I both feel you’ve earned a bonus.” He got out of the truck and went to the side door to the garage, looking up at Tyler who was still sitting there, staring at him not understanding. Troy motioned for him to get out of the truck, waiting there until he finally joined him. He used one of his keys to unlock the door to the garage before flipping a switch just inside to turn the lights on. When Tyler stepped inside, he saw two rows of trucks and a few cars all parked in the garage in their individual spaces. Some older than others but they all looked in good condition. He took two steps towards them and stopped. As his eyes scanned the garage, his mind didn’t want to think about what it is they were doing in here. An irrational feeling took hold inside him that rooted him to the spot. It was as if he had a voice in his head, telling him that if he moved, what he was hoping for wouldn’t happen and all of this would have been a dream. Troy stepped to the side into a small room that resembled a storage closet and looked around on a pegboard where keys were hanging from small hooks. He took two sets of keys and pulled them from their hooks and stepped back out to regard Tyler who was still standing there, looking like he was caught between running out of the room or falling onto the ground. He put a hand on the boy’s shoulder and leaned down to look at him. “You feeling okay?” “What…” Tyler’s voice was failing him. “Wh… why are we here?” Troy stifled a laugh. “Aren’t you tired of walking to work nearly every day? Or having to bum rides off of everyone else?” “Well, yeah, but--” “No ‘buts.’ And this isn’t giving it away, either,” he added. “This is just to give you a helping hand until you can afford to manage on your own.” He led Tyler over to the opposite side of the garage from where they entered and stopped in front of two older trucks. “So, here’s your choices,” he pointed to the two trucks in front of them. “You got a Chevy Silverado or a Ford F-150. Both are 2011’s so they’ve been places. But, they both run, they got license plates and everything. All you need to do is take care of it.” Tyler swallowed the catch in his throat. Even his mom didn’t have a car that new. His eyes went from one to the other, trying to decide. “I’m… are you sure about this?” “Tyler…” Troy was sounding both amused and playfully annoyed. “I do have to go home at some point and so do you. I’ve driven them both but I’m partial to the Silverado.” Tyler took a breath and then nodded his head. “Ok. I’ll take that one then.” Troy hit the button to unlock the doors and walked Tyler over to the driver’s side. “Now, be careful driving home.” He reached inside and grabbed the garage door opener from the visor and took it off, hitting the button to bring the garage door up behind Tyler’s new truck. “If you ever get in trouble or have any problems, you call me. Okay? No matter when, day or night.” “Alright,” Tyler started to smile, realizing that this was now his. It was a big responsibility, but he knew Troy believed he was up to it. “I can’t really thank you enough, Troy. You don’t…” The catch in his throat returned and he felt the edges of his vision getting blurry before he could blink his eyes and get his voice back under control. “...this is going to help us out a lot. Thank you.” Troy handed him the keys. “Just be careful. But, enjoy yourself sometimes too. Now, go home.” He grinned and stepped back. He knew he was never going to ask for the truck back. In fact, he’d probably change the title over to Tyler by the end of the month. The kid had had a rough life and needed at least one thing to break his way. He figured this could at least give him a leg up. He watched Tyler climb up into the truck and start it up. Troy was almost surprised it started on the first try but maybe they hadn’t left it sitting there as long as he thought. He might need to have Tyler get a new battery for it soon. But for now, let him enjoy himself. He moved farther back, giving Tyler enough room to safely back the truck out of the garage. Troy stepped towards the door as Tyler was all the way out of the garage and turned the truck, heading out of the lot. As he watched Tyler drive off, he smiled to himself as he stood there in the warm July evening air. Without meaning to, his thoughts drifted back to memories of simpler times and happier days. He stood there, longer than he had wanted to before he sighed and walked back into the garage to lock up and head back home to his wife and children. The simpler days of his youth were gone and no amount of wishing was going to bring them back. **** By the time work was done that Friday, Tyler was feeling better than he ever had in his life. Getting to drive himself to work since Monday morning had just been the beginning of it. When he came home with the truck, his mom nearly burst into tears when she saw it and saw a new look of self-confidence in her son’s eyes she’d never seen there before. He didn’t tell her exactly what had happened that he ended up with the truck. But seeing that look of happiness on his face stopped her from pressing him further. The rest of the week had been easy, doing things on the work sites he’d gotten used to doing and now he got his paycheck and was able to make the rent on the trailer. Andy had been playfully joking with him at the beginning of the week about how different he had seemed. Tyler took it all in stride and never mentioned to any of the other guys where he got the truck. The last thing he wanted was to be accused of any kind of favoritism. As the week wore on, Andy had gotten quieter than usual. Tyler had done his best to avoid the increasing gossip floating around. He could see things were starting to wear on Andy who was normally the most laidback person he’d met. By Friday afternoon when they got back to the office, Stacy’s car wasn’t in the parking lot and Andy seemed frustrated about it. Tyler wasn’t sure what to do or to say other than to just be his friend and try and keep him in a good mood. After he finished with his timesheet for the week, he turned it into Troy and headed home to shower and change. He was looking forward to his weekend off since neither Jacob nor Troy had left him any messages wanting him for any favors. He hurried inside, giving his mom a quick peck before getting showered and finding his best pair of jeans and a good shirt that wasn’t too tight but snug enough to show off his trim build. He spent a little more time than usual to make sure his hair looked nice before he finally felt ready to head out on his own. He climbed up into his truck, still feeling a thrill thinking of it as his, and pulled out of the trailer park, heading to the far side of town to the bar. As he drove, he started to mentally prepare himself for this. Promising not to drink too much or stay too late. He just wanted to be out now, and he didn’t feel the lingering shame he used to have being poor and having to rely on others so much. Even better, he could sit and enjoy a baseball game on a good TV with a bunch of other people. And even if he was alone in the crowd, he would at least be part of the crowd instead of by himself. After he parked, he headed into The Steel Door, looking a bit more confident than he felt. The room was busy but not overly crowded as he went to sit up at the bar. A part of him was hoping to see Drake again. At least that would be someone who was easy on the eyes he might be able to interact with. He hid his disappointment when he saw an unknown woman standing behind the bar taking orders with no sign of Drake anywhere. He ordered a beer from her and turned his attention to the screen above the bar, watching the Pirates and the Braves play. It was still top of the first so he could at least watch along with others in the bar. He noted whenever he glanced around the room, that most of the TV’s were tuned into the game. Two innings and two beers later, Tyler was starting to feel a little bored and a little hungry too. He had made a few subtle glances around the room, looking for at least anyone who might swing his way or at the very least some eye candy. He noticed a couple guys who looked nice in their jeans or shorts. Maybe he was a little overdressed with the hot July night, but he reasoned no one was going to want to get inside his pants anyway so it didn’t matter much. On the next commercial break in the game, he turned his attention to the menu on the bar to see if anything looked good. He knew enough to know that drinking on an empty stomach was never a good idea. Especially for someone as inexperienced as himself. “If you haven’t tried them yet, I’d say go with the hot wings.” The deep, sexy voice near his ear nearly made him jump slightly as he looked over in surprise only to see the bartender he had seen the last time he was here, leaning up to the bar next to him. His dark hair looked perfect even as a few strands fell over his bluish-gray eyes. “Shit, you scared me,” Tyler said before snickering slightly. “What are you doing on this side of the bar tonight?” Drake just shrugged as his lips lifted in a charming smirk. “Not my day to work. Besides, this is just a part time job for me. Only on Sundays and Mondays. I got a regular job working for an insurance agent down the road. So, what brings you out here tonight?” “Oh, uh,” he shrugged, hoping to look casual. “Just to watch the game and have a drink or two. Nothing big.” Drake looked around the bar before fixing his gaze on Tyler. “You don’t mind if I join you tonight, do you? I mean, I know we barely know each other but I’m sort of here by myself same as you. We could get some food and watch the game together.” Tyler could feel his cheeks redden slightly but he ignored it as he smiled. “Sure. No harm in hanging out.” Drake’s smile brightened. “Great. Let’s order some food first and we’ll grab a couple more beers, then stake out a good table.” The two of them ordered some wings and a couple sandwiches before grabbing their beers and setting out to find a table where they could sit and watch the game. Drake pointed out a table in a corner where one of the screens was pointed directly at before leading Tyler over and taking a seat. “So,” Drake began as they sat down, “wouldn’t hurt if we got to know each other, I think.” Tyler grinned and blushed again. “Well, I know your name is Drake. Don’t know much beyond that.” “Sure, you do,” he said with a smirk. “You know I work here on Sunday and Monday nights. I work for a local insurance agent and…” he paused, thinking for a moment. “...Okay, yeah, that’s about it.” He flashed Tyler a charming smile to get them both laughing and relaxed. “Well, not much more to tell beyond that. I’m thirty-two, I’ve lived here for about four years now and that’s about it. What about you?” “Well, you know I’m twenty-one,” he said with a playful smirk. “Grew up here, though I hate it here. Been working for Adams Construction for the last four months or so. I’m single and… I like baseball.” Drake’s smile softened a little, giving him a more relaxed look. “Sounds good. Where’re your friends tonight?” “My friends? Oh, you mean Troy and Andy. Well, they’re more my bosses than my friends. Though, I guess they seem to like me more than the other guys who work for them.” Tyler’s expression became more uncertain. “Really don’t have many friends left around here. Most took off after high school and haven’t been back.” The older man tilted his head slightly, looking at him with sympathetic eyes. “That must be rough. Being so young and not having many friends around.” “Yeah.” Tyler shrugged, unconcerned. “Not much I can do about it. Complaining isn’t gonna make them come back or anything. Just gotta move on, I guess.” "That’s an impressive way of looking at it,” Drake said with undisguised admiration. “Wish I had been like that at your age.” “Where did you live before you came here?” “Oh… here and there.” He smiled looking into Tyler’s eyes. Before they could talk more, their food arrived. They took a few bites and turned their attention to the game. Both of them being big fans of baseball in general, Drake was more of a fan of the Cardinals than the Pirates which Tyler took in stride and a little playful ribbing. After the game was in between innings, Drake took a long look at Tyler before he said, “I was born and grew up in Wyoming, which isn’t much different from here. But I left home at sixteen for complicated reasons.” He smirked a little, looking into Tyler’s eyes as he said that. “After that, I just kind of drifted east. Ended up in Missouri for a couple years, thanks to a very helpful guy who took me in. Gave me a job and taught me how to take care of myself.” “How long were you homeless,” Tyler asked. Drake just shrugged as if it was all no big deal. “I dunno. Three or four years, I guess? Took me a long time to get to St. Louis. I stayed with Max for about six years before he passed away.” Drake’s eyes seemed to drift off for a moment before he turned his attention back on Tyler. “He was a good man. Gave me a lot of help. I decided to head east again and I just sort of ended up finding this place and liking it, so I stayed. I’ve been here for the past three or four years now.” “How come you left home so young?” Drake chuckled. “Didn’t have much of a choice. My dad threw me out.” “Well, I know how that feels. Why’d he throw you out?” Drake was quiet for a moment as he chewed on a chicken wing and stared at Tyler. “I imagine for the same reason you came in here tonight all by yourself.” Tyler frowned a little in confusion. “Huh?” “Think about it.” Drake smirked and turned his attention back to the game. Tyler’s eyes turned to the game as well, but his thoughts were on what Drake had said to him. As he munched on a french fry, the pieces started to click in his mind. He looked over at Drake with a little surprise in his eyes. Drake met his gaze and smiled that charming smile of his. It made Tyler feel warm and a lump started to grow in his pants. “So… you’re…” Drake nodded. “Yeah. Sounds silly going from a decent sized city like St. Louis and ending up here in a town of less than ten thousand, huh?” “A little. But why?” Drake just shrugged. “I like it here. Feels more like home.” “What is there to like about this dump,” he asked with a slight giggle. Drake snickered, enjoying seeing Tyler smile. “Lots of stuff. I went to the apple orchard every year since I’ve been here. That was a lot more fun that I thought it would be.” “Oh,” Tyler’s thoughts went back to Jacob. “Yeah… I only went out there the first time this month.” Drake looked at him, confused. “This month? What were you doing out there?” "Oh, helping out my friend with building something.” Drake thought about it for a moment. “You mean Jacob? Jacob Eaton?” Tyler’s face brightened slightly. “Yeah. You know him?” Drake smirked a little and nodded. “Yeah. We… kind of ran into each other here a couple years ago. We had a thing for a while.” “A thing? You mean…?” Tyler wasn’t sure how to feel about the idea of someone having a thing for Jacob. Drake burst out laughing and managed to cover his mouth to muffle some of it before he recovered. “We were drunk. All three three times,” he added with a wink. “Wasn’t anything serious. Just, you know, two guys getting off.” He said it with such dismissiveness as if it was no big deal talking about having sex with a guy in a tiny little town like theirs. “Oh.” Tyler looked down at the remnants of their wings and fries. Drake watched him for a second and then carefully slid his hand over to rest on Tyler’s leg. “He’s a nice enough guy, I guess. Haven’t seen him in a long time though.” Tyler nearly jumped when he felt the warm hand on his leg. He looked over into Drake’s eyes and relaxed a little. But there was another part of him that had other ideas and none of them involved relaxing. “It’s… it’s ok.” He laughed nervously. “I was probably still in high school anyway.” Drake smirked and squeezed his thigh a little before removing his hand. “I just don’t want to leave you with the wrong impression. I like you. And I think you’re cute and sweet.” Tyler couldn’t believe someone as handsome as Drake was hitting on him. Even Jacob didn’t do that. His lips lifted in a small smile to reassure him. “Thanks. I like you too.” Drake’s eyes glimmered slightly as he smiled. “Let’s watch the rest of the game.” They looked at each other a second before returning their attention to the baseball game. Over the next hour, they shared their opinions on the Pirates and everything else going on in the league that year. The more they talked, the easier it was for Tyler to relax, laugh and really enjoy spending time with someone new. It wasn’t like being with Troy or Andy who he always felt like he had to act a certain way because they were his superiors. Or Jacob who just made him trip on his own tongue half the time. Drake was more down to earth and normal so he could be less intimidated. It gave Tyler a kind of freedom where he could be funny or just relax and say what he thought without thinking he was going to say something wrong. By the time the game was over, they had three more beers, two more baskets of wings and the Pirates won by four as Tyler had predicted. They sat there smiling and laughing quietly together as the finished their final basket of wings and talked for a lot longer than Tyler thought they would. It was a new feeling having someone be that engaged in talking and getting to know him. “I’m really glad I ran into you tonight, Tyler,” Drake said. “Maybe we can do this again sometime,” Tyler offered. “I’d love too.” His grin widened as he looked into Tyler’s eyes. “So, what about the rest of the night?” “The rest?” Tyler looked down at his phone to check the time. “It’s pretty late for me. I was up early for work today so I’m starting to feel it now. I should go ahead and head home.” Drake looked at him with a little concern. “Are you okay to drive?” Tyler stood up. With all the food he ate and the couple bathroom breaks he took during the game half a dozen beers didn’t seem to have affected him. He felt a little disappointment about that for some reason. “Seems like I’m fine.” Drake stood and put a solicitous hand on his shoulder. “I’ll feel better if I at least walk you out to your car.” “Truck, but okay,” Tyler smirked playfully as Drake chuckled and followed him out the door. As they walked through the darkened lot, Tyler glanced over at Drake and said, “I had a really good time tonight. Better than it started.” “How did it start,” he asked as he looked at him. Tyler chuckled softly. “Sitting there being bored mostly.” He pulled his keys out of his pocket as he stopped at the door to his truck. “Well, I could’ve said the same if I hadn’t run into you.” Drake stopped and leaned a little closer than normal to him. “So… can I get your number?” “Sure, I don’t see why not.” They exchanged numbers before Drake said, “would it be too much to ask you what you’re doing tomorrow?” "Uh,” Tyler seemed surprised, even though Drake had seemed very open about himself. “I… I hadn’t thought about it.” “Is it okay if I text you tomorrow?” “S-sure.” Drake grinned. “Great. I hope to see you tomorrow then.” He turned to walk away. "Hey, ah, Drake?” He stopped and regarded him curiously. “Are you okay with us hanging out?” Tyler groped to find the right words. “It’s just… I thought you might wanna know… I’ve never… hung out… with a guy before.” Drake began to smile only to have it spread into a wide grin. “It’s ok, Tyler. I don’t bite.” Tyler blushed and rolled his eyes and the silly line he’s heard on TV more than a few times. “Well, I wouldn’t know if I wanted you to until I tried it.” Drake walked back up to him, stopping just in front of him. “In that case, maybe I should give you something to think about.” He leaned in and pressed his lips against Tyler’s in a lingering kiss. He looked deep into Tyler’s eyes before he said, “I hope I hear from you tomorrow.” He walked away with a confidence Tyler could only hope to have someday. Tyler was in a daze as he watched Drake walk away. He’d gone from turned on to relaxed through the night watching the game and suddenly aroused all over again. He stood there for a moment, still feeling his lips tingling from the sudden kiss. It was his first kiss and it had happened so fast he didn’t have a chance to really enjoy it. He managed to get the door to his truck open and climb inside. As he started it up to head back home, he wondered if he could get Drake to try that again when he’s better prepared for it.
  7. Okay, I've looked at this three times now. This might sound mean or whatever, but I just gotta say it. He looks like someone rebooted Aaron Carter and removed all the malware on his hard drive. Yes. I know. I'm going to hell.
  8. I was having a hard time trying to figure out why I started chapter 16 in the place I did.  I got a couple pages in but I still felt "lost" in my own book.  Then I decided to go get lunch and took my notebook with me just in case something came to me.  I wrote out a simple note for myself about where the characters were and why they were there.  And I stared at it and asked myself, "well, yeah, but why is it so important that I have to write about it?"

    Two spoons full of french onion soup later...




    Sometimes, there's no substitute for using pen and paper to write your story.

  9. Jdonley75

    Chapter 2

    Giving the readers just enough information to leave them guessing is part of the reason why I believe someone commented that I was an "evil genius" for doing in the last book. So, you know, proceed with caution into speculationville. 😆 Tyler is very young and very new to life in many ways. He's got a long journey ahead of him and I'm really looking forward to letting it play out for the readers. It's not going to be easy at times and there will most likely be equal parts of laughter and tears involved,. But, hey, who's life doesn't have all that? Tyler's mom is somewhat important to the story in the beginning and she's going to help him get on the right path in some ways. Like mother's often do. The final paragraph is... well... you'll see...
  10. Jdonley75

    Chapter 1

    Actually all of the stories I've written are linked. "The Acquittal" was the first thing I wrote and tells a specific story all on it's own. This new story is more or less a before, during and after that. While many characters are in both (like Andy), you could read that and still enjoy this one as much. While Andy's "destiny" is pretty well set in the first book, there was a lot of room for him to grow and so this book is just as much for him as for Tyler and also continuing them all on their journey through life towards the later half of this book. I try to make the lives of my characters as simple and complex as real people. It's not easy but the rewards are worth the effort. Andy's life has not gone at all according to plan, but in many ways, none of their lives have (except maybe Troy. Ah, good old Troy.) But this book will be shedding light on many aspects that were missed or overlooked because, well, Jacob and Kyle were the focal point of the last book. This one may be more of an ensemble cast rather than one or two main stars towards the end, for all I know. Thanks for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy it.
  11. Jdonley75

    Chapter 2

    Jacob is a little different from the previous book. You'll figure out why soon enough and hopefully see just how much he changes between now and Kyle's eventual return. He's a little more like his shy younger self in some ways and still finding his footing here in the beginning.
  12. Jdonley75

    Chapter 1

    Thank you. Tyler is very young and will be growing up a lot in many ways. And so will a few other characters.
  13. Jdonley75

    Chapter 2

    Tyler has a lot more going for him than he realizes most of the time.
  14. Jdonley75

    Chapter 2

    Thank you. I hope you guys continue to enjoy what's to come.
  15. Jdonley75

    Chapter 2

    I'm glad you're enjoying it so far. This is just scratching the surface of the story as a whole and Tyler is a pretty complex character. The pacing is to mostly keep a kind of similar feel from the original book. Long stretches of time broken up by significant events that drive the overall narrative. The story really kicks in high gear once things start to move forward a bit more.
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